Famed Japanese animator Hideo Miyazaki attacks Abe-led right-wing government [The Hankyoreh 한겨레 / Sweet & Sour Cinema]

An important article, which may have been rendered invisible by an obscure original headline. – Zuo Shou

July 20, 2013

= [C]onstitutional amendment and other reactionary policies are likely to follow…July 21 ruling party win =

By Park Min-hee, staff reporter

“People who are short-sighted should not be allowed to meddle with the constitution.”

Shortly before the election of the Japanese upper house on July 21, which Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his government [won], legendary Japanese animation director Hayao Miyazaki harshly criticized Abe’s historical understanding and his efforts to amend the Japanese constitution.

Miyazaki one of Japan’s most famous directors and has received an enthusiastic response worldwide for the issues of the environment and life addressed in animations such as “My Neighbor Totoro” and ”Spirited Away.”

The July issue of “Neppu,” a monthly magazine published by Studio Ghibli, Miyazaki’s animation company, carried an article by Miyazaki titled “Amending the Constitution is Outrageous.”

“I am staunchly opposed to amending the constitution,” Miyazaki wrote in the article. “During recent elections, candidates have not been elected by large margins, and voter turnout has been low. It is not appropriate for the government to take advantage of the confusion to amend the constitution using some improvised means.”

The article is a direct attack on the Abe-led government, which intends to try to amend Article 9 of the Japanese constitution after the election in the Japanese House of Councilors, Upper House. Article 9 is the part of the constitution that forbids Japan from possessing an army.

Miyazaki was particularly critical of Abe’s efforts to first push through an amendment of Article 96 of the constitution, the article that determines the conditions required for amending the constitution. “Beginning by amending Article 96 is a fraud,” he said bluntly.

Miyazaki also said that what the people who want to amend the constitution are ultimately trying to suggest is that Japan before the war was not a bad country. “But Japan was a bad country,” he said.

“The comfort women issue is something that affects the pride of every nation, and as such Japan must make a clear apology and provide proper compensation for this,” Miyazaki said.

He also addressed Abe’s remarks that he “fundamentally respects the Murayama Statement,” which was an apology by Tomiichi Murayama, then-Prime Minister of Japan, made in 1995 on the 50th anniversary of the end of the World War II “What is ‘fundamentally’ supposed to mean?” Miyazaki queried. “Isn’t he in fact denying the statement in its entirety?”

In the article, Miyazaki, who was born in 1941, tells the story of his father, who made money at a dance hall at an airplane part factory unconnected with the war. He presents an unbiased depiction of the attitudes of Japanese during the war. He notes as well that, if he had been born a little earlier, he also might have become a jingoistic young man.

The response of Japanese society to this issue of Neppu, which also contains articles on Article 9 of the constitution by Toshio Suzuki (“The Raccoon War”) and Isao Takaha (“Grave of the Fireflies”), has been enthusiastic.

The 5,000 copies of the magazine that were carried in bookstores around Japan starting on July 10 soon sold out, and Studio Ghibli’s publishing department has been flooded with inquiries about purchasing the magazine, the Tokyo Shimbun reported on July 19.

On July 18, Studio Ghibli made the entire text of the magazine available for download on its website (www.ghibli.jp), so that it would be available for voters to read before they go to the polls on July 21.

When asked about the reason why they printed this special issue, the studio said, “We believe that the biggest problem [about the attempt to amend the constitution] is the apathy of the Japanese people. The media is largely to blame as well. It is important to make our position clear about an issue that will determine which direction Japan moves in the future.”

Another factor is the upcoming release of “Wind Is Rising,” Miyazaki’s first new film in five years. The film, which will hit theaters on July 20, tells the story of the developer of the Zero, a fighter used by the Japanese army during World War II. The article in Neppu also appears to be a contribution to the debate about the depiction of history found in the movie.

If the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan led by Abe wins the election in the Japanese House of Councilors on July 21, it is very likely that a number of conservative policies will be implemented. These could include amendments to the constitution, an increase in overseas activity by the Japanese Self-Defense Forces, and textbook revisions.

The old director remembers life in Japan at the end of the war and lived through the violent student demonstrations in the 1960s. But he seems to be saying that the most outrageous thing of all is the situation that he is watching unfold today.

Article link: http://english.hani.co.kr/arti/english_edition/e_international/596461.html

Original article title: “Japanese director speaks out against constitutional amendment”

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